In a statement on Thursday, Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee heralded her office's work to divest from woke asset manager BlackRock this year in light of "many questions, comments and concerns in the past few months regarding BlackRock" as other states such as Missouri, Florida, and Louisiana announced their divestments from the ESG-advancing entity.
"The vast majority of our $30 billion in investments, 98% to be specific, are managed by our in-house investment management team," Yee explained. "We have never had a contract with BlackRock to manage money for the Arizona Treasury, except for money market funds for daily liquidity needs. At the beginning of the year, I led in the national divestment effort to remove any exposure we had with BlackRock," she continued. "In February of 2022, my office divested more than $543 million from BlackRock money market funds and reduced our direct exposure to BlackRock by 97% this year."
Yee explained her divestment actions came as the "result of a review by our internal Investment Risk Management Committee (IRMC) that began in the fourth quarter of 2021" that "involved reading the annual letters by CEO Larry Fink, which in recent years, began dictating to businesses in the United States to follow his personal political beliefs. In short, BlackRock moved from a traditional asset manager to a political action committee," Yee concluded.
Arizona's treasurer pledged to "continue to reduce our remaining exposure in BlackRock over time in a phased in approach that takes into consideration safe and prudent investment strategy that protects the taxpayers" and noted that such efforts had already reduced the AZ Treasury's direct exposure to BlackRock to "less than 1 tenth of one percent of our total assets under management."
What's more, Yee explained that by continuing to own the shares of the entire index, Arizona's treasury is able to vote its shares as an investor "in the hopes of joining other like-minded investors to change the political activism of BlackRock. We will continue to fight back against the dangerous path of companies pushing their social issues and wokeism inside the investment space and return to traditional money management that puts the people first," she said.
Yee's full letter on her efforts to divest from BlackRock is below:
At the beginning of this year, I led in the national divestment effort to remove any exposure we had with BlackRock. In February of 2022, my office divested more than $543 million from BlackRock money market funds and reduced our direct exposure to BlackRock by 97% this year. https://t.co/z6hrTv3d3L— Kimberly Yee (@KimberlyYeeAZ) December 8, 2022